Nicola Sturgeon was left defending her stance during the coronavirus pandemic, insisting she had no plans to exploit the crisis to push forward her plans for independence. The First Minister was left floundering after BBC Breakfast presented Naga Munchetty suggested the outbreak had helped her demonstrate Scotland could fare well independently. Ms Munchetty said: “The comments that have been made about the way you’ve handled this, and the Scottish Government has handled this….this is playing into your hands in terms of an argument for independence, isn’t it?”
Ms Sturgeon, however, insisted she had tried to distance herself from political debate while tackling the threat of the pandemic.
She said: “Look, I’ve never seen this pandemic as an argument for or against independence.
“I’ve tried not to be political, party political or engage in constitutional politics over this.
“There are people are going to believe that I am treating this as some sort of fuel for some argument for independence, they’re going to believe the worst of me and there’s possibly nothing I can do to change their mind.
JUST IN: Brexit free trade deal ‘very close’ – UK finalising comprehensive agreement with Turkey
“But I think most fair-minded people will see the Scottish Government have just played this with a straight back, tried to do the best we can to protect Scotland as much as we can from a deadly virus.”
The SNP leader continued: “That’s what I’m going to continue to do. And if, as it would appear to be the case right now although I’m not complacent about this, the majority of people appear to think the Scottish Government is doing an ok job around this, I’m not sure this is something that should be a criticism of the Scottish Government.
“My challenge now, having got to where we are, is to keep on doing the things and persuading the people of Scotland to do things that allow us to keep this virus under control.
“We face very immediate threats of spikes of this virus as we come out of lockdown.”
READ MORE: China reports NEW unknown disease spreading across Asian country deadlier than COVID-19
Before the coronavirus outbreak spread across the UK, Mrs Sturgeon had demanded Boris Johnson agree to let Scotland have a second independence referendum.
The First Minister has maintained since the 2016 Brexit referendum Scots should be given a new chance to decide whether to remain in the UK after voting in a majority to remain in the European Union.
The Prime Minister however repeatedly downplayed and dismissed the possibility of a new independence referendum.
Indeed, Mr Johnson made sure to highlight the importance of a united economic response to the crisis during his latest PMQs appearance.